Why Podiatry: Do what you so desperately desire

This letter’s purpose is to encourage those of you reading to go out and do what you so desperately desire to do and to do a damn good job at it. If you manage to get fairly compensated for your skill set in the process, more power to you.
The main question I would like to address is “Why Podiatry?”

It took countless hours volunteering at health fairs, perusing online forums, and immeasurable personal conversations with aspiring future doctors to discover a common theme that plays a crucial role in molding a podiatric physician who first presents as a lost college student. I’ve discovered that the best way to be an advocate for the drastic change I have experienced is to simply tell others my story.

At the time, I was a college senior set to graduate. Simply put, my grades were not competitive enough for M.D. and D.O. programs. I was force fed into a biology degree I felt lukewarm about and told from the day I was born to become a doctor by both parents and relatives alike. This could not happen numerically without putting significant time into reinvention- whether it be post-baccalaureate studies or a specialized Master’s Program. I was given 1 option by my family: Stay at home, study for the MCAT, and work. I chose to do everything my parents and relatives told me not to do.

I moved into another city, started a master’s of science I was genuinely interested in and took on even more student loans to do so. I worked tirelessly for those 2 years, did research while going to my graduate classes, and seriously considered other medical professions such as optometry, physician assistant studies, physical therapy, and podiatric medicine. I wanted a career in the health field, I just did not know what.

Physician Assistant studies were the quickest way out. I would still be involved in the healthcare field with a plethora of specialties to dabble in, schooling was short, and I could potentially make money and live my life while others had only finished 1/4th of their medical training. It was enticing, but I wanted an education that would push me to my absolute limits. I considered optometry. I had shadowed before and thoroughly enjoyed the professional expertise optometrists were trained for regarding the eyes and its pathologies. I would still be called a doctor, and would still be able to manage my own patients. But I realized while optometrists are very well trained, real-world pathologies are few and far in-between. A majority of the time in office was focused on patient education regarding contacts as well as refractions for glasses (which are all essential to our health). I wanted something more hands-on. Enter podiatric medicine.

It offered everything I was looking for on paper. The medical training was similar if not equivalent to M.D. and D.O. programs. It required a 3-year surgical residency, and it offered a wide depth of treatment options ranging from wound care to limb salvage to surgery. You were trained as a physician and a surgeon, with the caveat that your specialty was chosen and locked-in from the very first day of podiatric medical school.

I had many obstacles along the way, both by people within this profession and outside of it, and I realized these obstacles were simply what made life interesting and worth living. I stepped into this profession almost by coincidence, and since the day I chose to commit, I have only continued to enjoy it further and further into my medical training.

The only question that mattered before jumping was this: Do I enjoy what I do? And will I be compensated enough to raise a family and live life to the fullest? This view may change as I continue to grow, but for now, I am thoroughly and delightfully enjoying the ride.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read this.

I hope you will work tirelessly for the life you want, and that you are happy doing so.


Paul Nguyen

Chief Editor PrePodiatryLife 2018-2019

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